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.

Belle Brummell Chanel

Godfrey Deeny
March 10th, 2009 @ 00:09 AM - Paris

If anyone doubted that a masculine moment is marching through women’s fashion, any remaining skepticism would have vanished after seeing the unveiling of the Chanel fall 2009 collection inspired by the most legendary dandy of all time, Beau Brummell.

Credited with inventing the modern suit, Brummell was famous for wearing beautifully fitted tailoring, full-length trousers and a grandiose knotted cravat - just like the models on the Chanel catwalk this morning in Paris, Tuesday, March 10.

“I was thinking of Beau Brummell, but from a Coco Chanel point of view, which is why I’m calling this Belle Brummell,” said Karl Lagerfeld, the eye of the storm in a paparazzi and TV camera blizzard that looked more like a street brawl than a chic fashion media moment.

The scuffling for a good vantage point broke out before the show had even begun. Several score of photographers went into a feeding frenzy for snaps of Claudia Schiffer, Frieda Pinto, Milla Jovovich and, above all, Kate Moss. In a huge show down between lensmen and security, a section of the runway – in black and white, of course – broke off.

Order restored, Lagerfeld send out the belle dandies in a masterly lesson in the art of cutting suits and a salutary example of how smart editing can make the addition of a few well-chosen accessories seem smart and new.

Cut with the leanest of silhouette’s made in boucle wool and cashmere, kitted out with a series of sassily cut and knotted foulards, cravats and scarves and finished with rosettes and carnations, Coco’s fetish flower, they all looked mighty fine. In a way, like the very beautiful kid sister that neither Lagerfeld, nor Brummell, ever had.

For evening, Lagerfeld kept it lean, adding chiffon epaulettes to slinky columns, but even these had white cravats.

The color palette was almost totally black and white, except for a few hints of lawnmower green and kissing pink, the latter worn by Dutch model Lara Stone, who sported a see-through handbag that revealed a pink quilted leather clutch, scent bottle, iPod and Chanel lipstick.

There were even had four male dandies, all in black with white socks, who marched out with the requisite arrogance of a true dandy. Adding to the witty atmosphere was a great soundtrack by Michel Gaubert, a “chunked up mix,” in his words, of Donna Summer’s classic “Love to Love You Baby,” with the singer’s ecstatic finale echoing through the room.

Noted fashion photographer and Academy Award-winning costume designer Cecil Beaton did call Coco Chanel the “female Beau Brummell,” so this show made lots of sense, and for fans of the 1954 movie, "Beau Brummell," with Stewart Granger in the title role, the whole event made for a great morning.

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